Tuesday, September 30

I've been on vocal rest since Saturday, and I've been doing quite well, if I do say so myself.

Wifey and I did our Beach Solitude homework together. And by "together", I mean we got out of the car, walked to separate parts of the beach, and tried to ignore each other's existence for the next 2 hours. Luckily, my silent state made it a little less tempting for us to try to communicate during that time.

In movement class today, a capoeira instructor named Andrea came in to start us off with some basic moves. We learned 5 different kinds of kicks (none of which I can pronounce -- but I didn't have to, because of this vocal rest) among other things. She also brought in a bunch of nifty instruments used in capoeira and demonstrated them. I thought it was pretty awesome.

We have officially started working on The Bow and The Camel Arch tremor positions. I'm a little worried that I'm never going to find a tremor in either of them.

This is The Bow:

This is The Camel (aka The Arch):

Both of these positions come very naturally to me (most likely because of my over-curved spine), which is why I have a difficult time finding tremors in them. I don't feel energy flowing through me to sustain these positions. My body likes them. My voice professor used me as an example for The Camel (apparently my version is relatively graceful), and said that while I might never tremor there, I should feel an opening in my chest and shoulders as a result of it. So at least that.

Very little actually happened. Being a student rep? Sort of a piece of cake so far. It just means that I have a cramped lunch hour once a week.

We're having exams on Friday over our "memory of physical action" exercises, so we'll be seeing a lot of those this week (many of which will be repeats). Today we saw:

Big Show - repairing a flat bike tire
Killer - replacing the lamp in a Source 4
O.D. - relaxing in a hot tub
All The Way - planting flowers
Wifey - vacuuming

I was originally thinking that I'd share "doing laundry", "putting away laundry", or "steaming clothes" (can you tell what's been on my mind this weekend?), but seeing as how our exam is this close, I think I'm just going to stick with "making a peanut butter and banana sandwich". That way, I'll be able to get feedback on it twice more before the exam.

More project presentations. The "Conventions of 19th century theatre" group finished up, and then the "naturalism" group did an inventive skit for theirs. We'll begin discussing A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen on Thursday.


Saturday, September 27

As I mentioned before, I have tonsillitis (or possibly strep). I wrote a casual email to my voice professor to let her know. She had told us to contact her if we had any "vocal emergencies", and I wasn't sure if this qualified. Here was her response:

hi Angela,

thanks for your email, it is important to keep me in the loop on these things. you really should be on VOCAL REST, at least throughout the weekend and monday.

this means:

no talking
no whispering
no talking whatsoever on the telephone unless its absolutely essential, like calling your doctor. it's very stressful on your voice
drink warm tea, or hot water with lemon & honey

please call me (it will be considered essential since we are discussing taking care of your voice) on MONDAY night on my cell with an update. if you get my voicemail leave me a message & i'll call you back. it's excellent that you went to the doctor immediately. that's exactly what you should have done under those circumstances of white spots.

you can call me before monday if you need any guidance.

take good care!

So it looks like I'll have a few days of silence. *sigh*


Quotations: Volume 5

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

"My crying was convincing. Mountain Laurel was very worried." - Voice Professor, on practicing screaming and crying at home the night before. Mountain Laurel is her dog.

Voice Professor: What's the uvula?
Me: The hang-y ball thing in the back of your throat.
Iceman: The thing that Mickey Mouse hangs onto. After the giant ate him.
Voice Professor: I would accept that on a test.

"As you are learning how to swim in a pool that has no water in it, I suggest that you imagine the water." - Acting Professor

"Your will is in your feet. Weak character, weak feet. Strong character, strong feet." - Acting Professor

"Michael Chekov is algebra." - Acting Professor

"Hey now, Big A. I don't know if we have to use 'ridiculous' as an adjective." - The Pro, to Acting Professor

"Let it. Let it. Let it." - Acting Professor, encouraging us to allow things to develop instead of forcing them or fighting them

"Helping it is also killing it." - Acting Professor, on rebuilding an impulse

Big Show: I think your shoes are interesting.
Wifey: How?
Big Show: They don't match anything you're wearing.
Wifey: There's blue in this shirt. *points to skinny blue line amidst her red and green plaid*
Big Show: I'm no fashionista, but you wear those all the time, and they never match.
Wifey: But they're interesting, right?
Big Show: Well, yeah. Is that why you wear them?
Wifey: No. I thought they matched!
(in an ambush exercise)

"Stop all the b***s*** dialogue!" - Acting Professor, on us losing our objectives in exercises

"We had a blanket." - Iceman, in an exercise after someone asked, "Were you protected?" about having sex on a beach

Thrill: I need some soft hands on my face.
Voice Professor: [Thrill], I can't do that, man.

"When you start to say, 'oh s***', that means thirty more seconds." - Movement professor, on our isometrics

"We were interrupted yesterday... by the arrival of five p.m." - Acting Professor

"The book's fine. I'm gonna get into the book. Or not." - D-Train, on a prop in an exercise

"I'll talk mostly about Great Britain, because I have a fascination with Britain. Sorry... Or, you're welcome." - 2nd-year Director C, in a presentation

Director C: Who knows what 'the problem play' is?
Big Show: I do!
The Pro: I had a problem with Oedipus...

Big Show: I have a question that may be completely unrelated.
Acting Professor: What's for dinner?

"It was about the shoes the whole time? What the f***?" - Iceman, after an exercise where Wifey found a note revealing his infidelity. He read the prop note, which was actually about someone borrowing shoes.

"He said 'it's kinda late,' and I thought, well, you're kinda fat." - D-Train, about an etude with Killer (who is NOT fat, in any way, shape, or form) refusing to exercise with him

"[Killer], you have lovely pectorals. I have noticed those. Just wanted to make you feel better." - Wifey, making sure Killer knows that he's not fat


Friday, September 26

My throat has been bothering me since Tuesday, so I went to the doctor. Apparently I have tonsillitis. Actually, the doctor says it looks like strep. But the first strep test came back negative, so they're sending it to the lab, and I'll find out in five days. In the meanwhile, I'm amoxicillin-ed up. Awesome. In the meanwhile, I feel nasty.

We have a new homework assignment that involves going to the beach by yourself for 2 hours, and "checking in" with yourself every 15 minutes. We have to write a paper on it. I'm not really a beach person. In fact, I've been living in a seaside town for a month and a half, and I don't even know how to get to the beach. And I'm pretty sure there are beaches all over the place here. I guess I'll drive out to the Keys on Monday. Hopefully, I'll be feeling better by then.

We finally started discussing "s" and "z" sounds in detail. My professor demonstrated the difference between an overly-sibilant "s" (like I have) and a neutral "s" (which she has). Honestly, my ears don't understand the difference yet. I'm a little bothered by that, because usually I'm able to aurally distinguish things that other people have trouble with. *sigh*

I asked my voice professor if she knew why there weren't any videos of people tremoring online. She thinks it's because:

A. If people saw them, they'd think this method was insane.
B. People might try to do it at home without instruction, which could lead to them doing it wrong and injuring themselves.

I think the latter is probably accurate, seeing as how, under the watchful eye of an instructor, I have managed to:

- Knee myself in the face
- Bite my tongue
- Whack my head into the floor with near-concussive force
- Bruise my back


After watching Iceman do a memory of physical action exercise ("unpacking books"), we spent the rest of class doing dialogue etudes. I'm finally starting to get comfortable with them. I worked with Two-Shots-Up, and I think we found some neat things. Really, everyone did great work yesterday. And Thrill was particularly amusing throughout the entirety of class.

I apologized to my professor for crying during class, as I felt it was unprofessional. He said, "Angela, you're an actress. You're allowed to express your emotions." I feel better now.

Thank goodness I have a few days off now. My throat could use some recovery time.


Thursday, September 25

We got our understudy assignments today! I've been assigned to Paulina in The Winter's Tale and Béline in The Imaginary Invalid. I'm completely amped! I had put in a formal request last week to understudy someone in Winter's Tale because of my Shakespeare geekdom, and my request was granted!

I've only read Winter's Tale once, and it was back in high school so I'm not crystal clear on everything that goes down, but I remember Paulina as being a strong, loyal, serious woman. I don't know Imaginary Invalid at all, but I've been told that Béline is a two-faced gold-digger, and is a comedic role. Two very different sorts of characters, but equally awesome. I feel incredibly blessed.

I had a "tutorial" today, which is a one-on-one session with a professor. We discussed my movement goals and physical history. She told me that she thinks I'm flexible, which is sort of weird to hear. I don't think of myself as flexible, as my hip sockets aren't (i.e. I can't do the splits or put my leg behind my head or anything... When I straddle, my legs only hit a 90-degree angle). But apparently my back, knees, rib cage, and shoulders are flexible. I said that my movement goals are to have better form, be able to have better control over my hip sockets, and to be able to learn a back-walkover. She thinks I need to focus on gaining arm strength as well. She asked if I'd ever waltzed, which I really haven't. I suspect it's because she wants to use waltz as a way to correct my form.

In trying to correct my "t" and "d" sounds, I have apparently over-engaged my jaw. *frustrated* Killer and I have a tutorial time set up with our professor next week to get started on our sibilant "s" corrections.

I know some of you want to see video of tremoring, but I can't help you yet. There are two really awful videos on YouTube (search for "Fitzmaurice tremoring") of girls attempting to do it for a class... badly. I don't have a video camera... I know "Two-Shots-Up" has video capabilities on her camera. Maybe at some point I'll get her to take a video of me doing it so that I can show you exactly what it is. But I warn you, you're going to think that I've joined a cult or have demons escaping from my body or something, because it looks completely nuts.

I had a complete emotional breakdown today in acting class, and it was every bit as embarrassing as I feared it would be. I'm pretty sure that this is now the third time in five weeks that I've cried in front of my classmates, and I'm terrified that I'm going to get a reputation as being the pathetic girl who cries all the time.

I was doing an exercise involving finding impulses from outside yourself, and I just don't get it. After doing it twice to no success, I started crying. And it wasn't because of criticism; I can handle criticism. Nay, I ENCOURAGE criticism (actually, I quite literally did that yesterday). I started crying because I just DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

With so many things that I'm learning right now, in all my classes, I see the things I'm doing wrong. I am usually unable to correct them, but I know what I'm doing, how it's wrong, and have some form of vague idea how to work on it. But with this? I have absolutely no clue. (Actually, I think that's also the reason that I'm more frustrated with my "s" sounds than my "l", "b", and "t"; at least with the other sounds, I sort of know where things are amiss.)

I'm sure I'm biased from being the one in the situation, but I felt that my exercise was way harder than the other ones that were given out today. And I also think that going first was probably not the wisest decision in the world. I really need to learn not to volunteer for things without having a proper idea of what I'm getting myself into.

I think I'm going to try to meet with the professor after class tomorrow. I'm just so very, very puzzled. And I hate that feeling. It's incredibly aggravating.

My group (Two-Shots-Up, Wifey, D-Train and me) presented our Ibsen biography project today. I think we were all initially a little uneasy that it was supposed to be 40-minutes long, but we were fine on time. In fact, I think we all could've spoken for longer than we did. I'm pretty proud of how it went.

We have to read The Wild Duck for next week. I'm not really familiar with Ibsen, so I'm looking forward to it. D-Train says he thinks I'm going to love it. We'll see.


Wednesday, September 24

What we did in movement class today pales in comparison to what we did FOR movement class. We attended a capoeira "roda" (pronounced sort of like "HUD-duh"). Capoeira is an African/Brazilian dance/sport/martial art. It's quite neat. It also involves singing and drumming, and people sort of fake fighting using dance in the middle of a circle of other people. I know Two-Shots-Up got some pictures and video, but I don't have access to them yet. Here's an example of what capoeira can look like.

Yeah. It was sweet. I think we're going to get some basic instruction in it at some point.

Good news! There are some consonant sounds that I actually say correctly! They are "p", "b", "m", "n", and "ng". So that's something. :)

At one point, The Pro was doing some stretching, and it turned out that he unknowingly went into a tremor position called "The Bow", so we learned it. And then when I was stretching out after The Bow, I went into one called "The Arch", so we learned that one, too (making our class ahead of schedule on our tremors). Both of the new tremors involve stretching out the spine in a way that compresses the lower back (which feels really great to me, because of my weird back, but they can cause pain and spasms to people who try them without being properly trained).

I had a hard time finding a tremor in either of the new positions, probably because they're stretches that my body is used to and comfortable with. By the end of class, I found a small tremor in The Bow, but nothing with The Arch.

The current goal is to work out of your "artistic center" and let your "creative subconscious" take over. We're trying to give ourselves full freedom. This is much easier said than done. My professor said today that we should NOT be making choices; we should be following impulses.

I think I understand what he's saying, but it hasn't fully switched itself on in my brain yet. I know that one day, it'll suddenly CLICK, and I'll get it. Until then, I'm just going to try my best to not look perpetually puzzled.


Tuesday, September 23

We've been doing specific breathing exercises, and have now learned "breathing one" through "breathing four". Don't ask what they are, because frankly, I keep mixing them up. We were assigned some readings, but they're not due until next week so I'm not going to read them tonight.

Well, it turns out there are two more consonants that I'm pronouncing incorrectly: T and D. Apparently, mine are "splashy" instead of "crisp". I asked my professor why it is that every time we discuss a new consonant, I'm saying it wrong. She said that other people are, too, but that I'm the one who's willing to admit it. She also said I was good at self-diagnosis. So I guess that's good... Killer and I have an appointment with her next week to begin work on our sibilant S sounds. The class got a list of words to practice reciting tonight, but honestly, I can't say anything without judging myself anymore.

All we found out was that the understudy assignments SHOULD be posted Thursday. But that if we're really unlucky, it might not be until Thursday NIGHT. Bah!

Two more "memory of physical action" exercises. Big Show did "repairing a bicycle tire". The Pro did "making coffee and cereal".

We started doing work with "psychological gestures". Basically, we allowed our entire bodies to do actions in the air, such as "push", "grab", "reach", "drag", and the like. At one point we were "pushing" air towards a partner. I was paired up with D-Train, and being in a sort of physical conversation with him really changed the way my body-mind was viewing the pushing. Then, without moving, we used our minds to attempt these sorts of gestures telepathically. It sounds a little strange, but it was actually really neat.

We got our Oedipus papers back. I DIDN'T FAIL!!! I didn't get an A, either, but still. I'm going to rewrite it this weekend (which we're allowed to do on this one).

We spent a long period of time discussing the possible action in Women of Troy. I think we ended up with something along the lines of "to retain dignity". Frankly, I don't understand how that's the action of the play at all. Those women spend the whole play weeping, mourning, and being anything but dignified. But I suppose "to weep" or "to mourn" would be incomplete... Oh well.

My group has a 40-minute presentation on Thursday regarding biographical information on Henrik Ibsen. I went to the library with D-Train tonight to collect information, but there's just SO MUCH to digest. Hopefully, my group will be able to get together tomorrow night to make sense of everything. Wish us luck.


Quotations: Volume 4

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

"If you get bored, well, then you are boring. So don't let that happen." - Voice Professor

"If they have a big, slamming tremor, then that's wonderful. If you have a small tremor, then how fortunate for you." - Voice Professor

"And bring yourself to a rest position... and try to visualize yourself jumping rope." - Voice Professor, completely ruining our rest with a joke

"I put oatmeal in them, so it's almost like eating breakfast." - The Pro, encouraging people to eat the cookies he brought to school on his birthday

"You're not going to know your name by Saturday morning." - The Pro, to one of the 2nd-year directors regarding her birthday

O.D.: You were really intense. Just pay attention to that.
Acting Professor: And do you recognize that intensity?
O.D.: No.
Acting Professor: Do you ever experience that?
O.D.: I have no idea what you're talking about.
(Note -- O.D. had recently been intense in an exercise.)

"Street-crossed lovers!" - D-Train, after Acting Professor compared Big Show's elementary school romance with the girl across the street to Romeo & Juliet

"I have no standards when it comes to hair." - Killer

All The Way: Why are you here?
Thrill: Because it's free.

"Oh, look, there's plenty of fish... that look suspiciously like my classmates." - Acting Professor, on a point-of-view exercise

"To embrace life fully? Only humans do that. To save the country? Only humans do that. Not cats or bears." - Analysis Professor

"More than committed, less than lovers." - Voice Professor, when we asked her to clarify what she meant by, "become familiar with the material over the weekend."

"This is the skull of Sir Lawrence Olivier when he was three. And this is the skull of Sir Lawrence Olivier when he was fifteen." - Acting Professor, on what it would be like to be in an imaginary "magical" museum

"I moved out of here when I was eight. I was a weird little eight year old." - O.D., on envisioning his childhood bedroom

"With those lights, because they're kind of heavy, you have to sort of 'woolumph' them onto the table." - Wifey, beautifully making up a verb to explain a physical memory exercise

"It won't be long before I start saying, 'I forgot to set my alarm... and I had eighteen beers last night. Sorry.'" - Big Show

"Now, Angela's a girl who knows how to stretch." - Voice Professor, after I accidentally did a backwards somersault while stretching

*while tremoring*
Angela: OW!
Voice Professor: Angela?
Angela: Yes?
Voice Professor: Did you knee yourself in the face?
Angela: Yes.
Voice Professor: That stinks.

Acting Professor: The audience is always right. Like the customer.
Thrill: Oh, I thought you were going to say that the critic is always right.
Acting Professor: The critic is never right.

"The audience comes in wanting to be pleasantly surprised. The critics come in thinking, *crosses his arms* 'I wonder if he's going to pull this one off!'" - Acting Professor

"Your creative subconscious is giving you jewels, and the critic in you picks them up and say, 'I dont know... these might not be nice enough.'" - Acting Professor

"When your intuition tells you things, please don't argue. It is smarter." - Acting Professor

"Your creative subconscious knows one more thing; that it ain't a three-act play, [Killer]." - Acting Professor


Friday, September 19

I took my IPA consonant test, and I think I rocked it.

But then, my professor did something that has totally rocked my world in a crazy way: she informed Killer and I that we have the two worst "sibilant s" sounds in the class. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS. I think it means that our "s" sounds sort of hiss? All I know is that I've been hyper conscious of my "s" sounds all day. I think maybe I AM hissy, but I cannot for the life of me come up with a way to produce an "s" sound any other way.

I talked to my roommate about it, and I decided that I should ask the professor for a meeting to discuss it, as apparently we're not going to get to the "s" training for awhile, and I'd like to start correcting the problem as soon as possible. Killer wrote me that he has the same intention. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

I think I AM the only one with an "l" problem (I say words that start with "l" so that my tongue is touching the bottoms of my top front teeth). And I don't distinguish between my "wh" and "w" sounds yet (apparently, the "w" in "whistle" should sound different from the one in "want" in Standard American Dialect). And whenever the letter "s" is at the end of the word, I almost always pronounce it as an "s" instead of a "z", even when that is incorrect (like "daughters").

Honestly, though, I'm excited to have things to work on. I feel like this is the reason I'm here. I've spent my entire life pronouncing words in a non-neutral, unclear fashion, and I had no idea (unconscious incompetence). Now I know that there's a problem (conscious incompetence). Hopefully, I'll learn how to do it right (conscious competence) and do it that way for so long that it'll become normal (unconscious competence). Awesome.

We continued doing point-of-view exercises with the space. When I went, the "stage" area just had some tables, chairs, and stools on it. My professor whispered to me that it was "a garden in autumn", and then I had to treat the space in that way. As a result from watching the exercises yesterday, I no longer felt the need to perform. I didn't feel the need to illustrate to my classmates what my space was. I didn't try to make it real for them. Instead, I concentrated on making it real for me.

I looked at a stool and imagined that it was a wilting plant. I felt the chill in the air, and saw the bleak autumn sun, and the trees in the distance with their leaves changing to yellow. Another stool was a flowering bush, and I could tell that it was dying, so I used my hand to pat the soil and try to ascertain whether the ground was moist enough for it, and then dusted the dirt off onto my skirt. I thought about replacing some of the plants in the garden, and wondering why the former owner had planted them in the first place. A chair in the room became an iron bench that I sat on, thinking about how lovely my garden would be in the spring.

When I completed the exercise, my professor asked my classmates where they thought I had been. To my surprise, All-The-Way immediately asked, "Were you in a garden?" I guess that by making it real for myself, I made it real for her as well. It was such a neat feeling. She also asked if I had inherited the garden from someone. I told her that I knew that it was mine now, and that it hadn't always been mine, but that I hadn't gotten further than that. Most of my classmates guessed that it was autumn, which I was stoked about. Of course, not everyone got the garden... Several thought that it was a graveyard, and one even thought that I might've been indoors... But even just having one classmate identify it made me feel like I was on the right track. It felt great. :)


Thursday, September 18

I've been a bit of a basket-case the last couple of days. I hope it goes away soon.

We spent most of the day in a lecture, and it was pretty awesome. I learned that I might be on the border of having "low tonicity", which means your body is too loose (and, thus, too weak). We had to draw pictures of our bodies. Our homework for tonight is to identify our kinesthetic sense (physical awareness) and determine which parts of our bodies we're more and less aware of.

I had such a violent tremor today that my knee whacked into my nose and I had to stop... Yeah, I thought I'd write that down so you could all imagine how that could've possibly happened, and then have a good laugh at it. It was just as improbable and ridiculous as you imagined.

I think we've all got our consonants pretty well locked up now. We have a test tomorrow, and I'm not worried in the least. I know I understand it. And that's a really great feeling.

We're doing exercises involving changing our perceptions of spaces and situations. I was pretty frustrated about the whole thing until today. Some people can look at a wall and justify that it's "the sky" (because of the shadows, and the way the florescent lights shine on it) or "a city" (because of the grid lines), or a hillside (because of the texture and the color). They can see things in the wall and make it mutate in their minds. I can't do that.

When I look at a chair, I see a chair... tables are tables, bookcases are bookcases...

What I CAN do, is look at a wall and TREAT it like a hillside. Or I can visualize a sky. I can't create an ocean out of the wall, but I can look at a wall and see an ocean. I can imagine. I can pretend. Today, my professor told me that my way is perfectly fine, and will achieve the same result. So now I'm a lot less stressed about it.

One of my classmates did a really great exercise involving walking into a space with the idea that it was our Voice studio before the final exam (he was actually just walking into the performance area of our Acting studio). The rest of us weren't told what his concept of the space was before he walked in, but we all knew. Something about it really resonated with me. He didn't perform. He didn't try to illustrate the space. He just lived it. He was doing the sorts of things that he would do that are marvelously idiosyncratic and specific to him (like stretching his leg out while eating an apple), and completely ignoring the audience (he faced upstage for a good chunk of it). And it was captivating.

I guess it reminded me why we're here. We have to get back to basics and stop trying to perform or impress. We have to learn how to live on stage, not just act on it.

Killer did a physical memory exercise of changing the lamp in a Source-4 (changing the light bulb in a stage lighting instrument).

I did my physical memory exercise of making a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I've been working on it really hard for the past week, and I was nervous to show it to people. I think it went pretty well, though. In my nerves, I think I made my actions so precise that they were cartoon-y and mime-like, but my classmates could identify everything that I'd done, so I was glad for that. I think I'm going to keep working on that one in my spare time, just for my own satisfaction. No idea what my next exercise will be...

We're not allowed to use words like Tell, Ask, Inquire, Enter, Request, Talk, Banter, Open, Speak, Point Out, or Reveal when discussing the action of a play. Why? Because those words aren't "playable" from the standpoint of an actor. When a messenger comes in and you say he's there "to tell Hecuba about her daughter", you have to ask yourself "but WHY is he telling Hecuba about her daughter?" so that you can come up with a more workable verb.

Our homework is to go back to the text of Women of Troy and see how the thought goes through the whole play, how the diction helps to define it further, and determine what the action of the play is. This is complicated, as I seem to have misplaced my copy of the play. I grabbed the wrong book to take to class today (we have two skinny books with blue covers), and now I can't find the one I needed. Drat. Oh well. We don't have class again until Tuesday, so worst case scenario, I can probably just get a new copy before then.

We got our tech assignments, and I'm stoked. The 1st-years tech the shows that the 2nd-years act in. I'm going to be on deck crew for Wilder, Wilder, Wilder, box office for Blur and Miss Julie, and Assistant Stage Manager for the musical Three Postcards. I'm so geeked for the ASM gig! I have experience with ASM-ing both a musical and an opera, so I was hoping that I'd get to ASM this musical. I think it's a good way of putting my skills to use.


Wednesday, September 17

We jumped rope to "Let's Get It On" today. My movement professor said she wanted us to slow down our pace today. I think it had something to do with building muscle?

We worked on isometrics for awhile. I seriously think that my hip sockets are defective, because I ALWAYS get cramps in them, even if they aren't engaged. *shrugs*

We continued testing ourselves on IPA consonants, as we have a test at the end of the week. I messed up two things in class. One was the word "knowing", because I thought there was a "w" sound in it, but it turns out that it's just a dipthong (a combination of vowel sounds). The second was "daughters". It turns out, when you're pluralizing a word that ends in an "r" sound, the "s" has to take on a "z" sound. I do that consistently incorrectly.

This, actually, brings me to a concept that we've discussed in both my voice and movement classes. Correcting learned behavior is a process that takes you through four stages.

- Unconscious Incompetence
- Conscious Incompetence
- Conscious Competence
- Unconscious Competence

When you start work, you're doing things in the ways you've always done them, and you don't really think about it. They're not neutral behavior, but rather learned behavior. You're doing things out of habit, and they're not necessarily natural; they're normative. (Unconscious Incompetence)

As you begin training, you become aware of the things you're doing wrong (like forming your "l"s improperly, or standing with your feet pointing out to the sides). You're still doing it wrong, but now you're paying attention to it, and you KNOW that it's wrong. (Conscious Incompetence)

You learn how to fix the stuff you're doing wrong, but you have to focus on it in order to train your body and mind what the correct operations are. (Conscious Competence)

You do the corrected behaviors for such a long period of time that they become your new habits, and you do them without having to think about them (Unconscious Competence)

It's kind of neat, right?

Two Shots Up did a physical memory exercise involving retouching film in a dark room. Thrill did one of cleaning his sneakers.

There was an interesting exercise involving the way you approach a door. Our professor would give someone a scenario to approach the door with ("you're there to deliver bad news", "you're playing a prank", "you can't find your keys", "you're visiting your girlfriend," etc.). It yielded some neat results.

The end of class ended with us doing our dialogue etudes on our feet. I was partnered with Iceman, and I feel like I let him down. I got really frustrated by the exercise.

But I guess there are going to be days like that. Some days I'm going to feel like I can rule the world, and other days I'm going to feel like I'm drowning. Maybe that's what grad school is supposed to be.


Tuesday, September 16

My Movement professor has the flu, so we had a super long voice class today instead, and we were combined with the 2nd-years for part of it. It was so crazy being in the room with them for tremoring. The 1st-years are still working on finding spontaneous breath, but the second years are now on vocalizations while tremoring. And they do a bunch of tremor positions that we haven't learned yet, including one where they're STANDING UP (totally crazy!). I think that most of the 1st-years were pretty distracted by it, but I thought it was kinda neat to see what we're aiming towards.

We did some jump-roping, but only for like 3 minutes. Totally a piece of cake. D-Train says he's pretty sure that we've been jumping for 7 minutes every day, not the 5 that my Movement professor has claimed...

We got our tests from Friday back, and I totally rocked mine. I was relieved, as my first test grade in that class was a bit of a disappointment. We also got some homework back. I disagreed with my professor on the pronunciation of the word "fissure" (I think it has a "zh" sound in the middle, like "pleasure", but according to her pronunciation dictionary it should be an "sh" like "pressure"). We also took a practice test on IPA consonants, and I'm now confident that I know what I'm doing with that, which is always good.

The only real notable thing was that the head of the program told us to congratulate our classmates on our auditions. He said he was pleased, and that everyone had done well.

We started off with a couple more Physical Memory exercises. Thrill did "a round at the shooting range" and D-Train did "making tea".

We spent a fair amount of time doing an exercise sitting in circle. Two people were in a pair, and one had to ask the other a question. But not just ask it; ambush them with it. The goal of the question was to get past the superficial level of question-asking and ask the other person something that would surprise them, and that they'd have to have some sort of a connection to.

As the exercise went on, we got better at it. Things that seemed to cut through that first layer included, "Do you have a hair color preference on girls?", "When was the last time you cried?", "Why do you need to be perfect?"... The question I asked that seemed to work the best was, "How do you think I feel about you?"

I totally denied an impulse when I was answering, though. I felt so weird about it that I actually went and confessed to the professor a couple hours after class had ended. He said it was alright, but to try to follow my impulses tomorrow.

The question series that I wasn't completely honest to was something along the lines of "Do you get a sense of security from your hair?" (I said "sometimes") and "Is that why you're afraid to cut it?" (I think I said that was partially it).

I won't tell you the thing that sprung to mind, but I will tell you the reason I censored my response: the first thing I thought of made me sound pathetic. It made it seem like I have really low self-esteem. I didn't want them to judge me for it.

I have to get over that fear of being judged by my classmates/colleagues. We're going to be an ensemble. I have to be able to trust them. I can't close myself off from things or try to protect myself. I need to allow myself to be vulnerable around them.

I turned in my paper on Oedipus Rex, which was horrible. I disagreed with my own thesis, and I know that I did a horrible job of proving it, despite my best efforts.

I think I spoke too much in class. I'm just really not sure what our professor wants from us, and I didn't want to just sit there and act like I did. I hate feeling helpless like that. I know I'm a pretty smart cookie, but I just don't always know how to prove my points. I'm so much better at disproving things and filling the role of devil's advocate. *sigh*

We started discussing Women of Troy by Euripides (also called The Trojan Women). I have to admit, I was a complete basket-case when I read the play yesterday. I was reading it aloud, and I was weeping so much during one of Hecuba's early speeches that I literally had to put the play down for an hour and come back to it with a clear head. I have absolutely no idea what the action of this play is going to be... "To make people miserable?" "To destroy lives?" "To make Trojan women weep uncontrollably and mutter incomprehensible vowel sounds like oeee and eaaa?" No clue.

We were assigned groups for presentations in the coming weeks. I'm in a group with D-Train, Two-Shots-Up, Wifey, and one of the 2nd-year directors to present the biography of Ibsen. The other groups have "naturalism" and "conventions of 19th century theatre".

I stayed after class to talk to the professor for a bit. I told him my concerns about my paper. He assured me that he thinks I'm closer to getting it than I think I am. He also said that if I missed the mark completely, he'll let me re-write it. So at least that.


Saturday, September 13

Today was my first audition at grad school. And it was... weird.

Normally, auditioning doesn't make me nervous. My Shakespeare coaches taught me to go into every audition with the mentality that I'm proud of what I've worked on, I'd like to share it with them, I think they'll like it, and it doesn't bother me if I'm not what they're looking for.

But this wasn't like most auditions.

Usually when you audition for things, you don't know any of the people in the room with you. Today wasn't like that. When I walked out onto the stage, I saw:

- My Analysis Professor (who is also the head of the program)
- My Acting Professor
- My Voice Professor
- My Movement Professor
- The 2nd Year Acting Professor
- Three 2nd year directing students, who are in two of my classes with me
- One of my roommates (she was helping to run the auditions and time monologues)

Yeah. Weird.

And I know they're all on my side. But to see people out of the corner of your eye writing things down on notepads, and knowing that it's not just about whether to cast you, but also all the flaws that they need to correct over the next three years?


I totally rushed my pieces. By about 10-20 seconds. Which doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot (especially when you have 3 minutes to do two monologues).

Oh well. I hope I still did alright. I suppose it doesn't matter tremendously, as this was only an audition for understudy roles. But still, I really wanted to make a good impression.

I should find out my understudy assignments next week.

Wish me luck.


Quotations: Volume 3

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

Voice Professor: Some days it gets so cold in here, it's, like, ridic.
The Pro: I thought she said that it gets so cold, you'll lose your dick.

"Realize what was yesterday, what is today, and, most importantly, what is tomorrow?" - Acting Professor

"So you want me to write a paper, right?" - Thrill, when our Analysis Professor asked if there were any questions about what he wanted us to do, concerning the paper due Tuesday.

"If the playwright is on stage, then something's wrong." - Analysis Professor

"I'm sorry, I have no sense of humor in the morning. I start making jokes later in the day, but they're terrible. Like... *pause* I can't even think of one." - Movement Professor, after not understanding a joke that The Pro made.

"Sometimes it's like, 'I'm tremoring, tremoring... oh yeah...'" - Voice Professor

"I found it! I got it up, and now I don't want to let it down. I'm a palm-to-palm man!" - The Pro, exclaiming that he finally found a strong tremor, and that it was in the palm-to-palm position

"You're in my league. I watch a lot of really questionable television." - Voice Professor

"Are you aware of your edge towards cynicism?" - Voice Professor to Big Show

"We all know we're lying when we say there are no stupid questions, don't we?" - Voice Professor

"It's not about how long you do these technique exercises; it's about how often." - Acting Professor

Acting Professor: So, [All The Way], you've rehearsed in one space, and then you've entered a new space to perform. What do you do?
All The Way: Well... You're supposed to adjust...
(after being thrown by a new space)

"You wanna see my powdered doughnuts?" - The Pro

*in an improvisation-based exercise, they turn on an imaginary tv*
Wifey: I Love Lucy?
O.D.: Yeah... Do you? Love Lucy?
Wifey: I think I do.

"Musky is mine!" - O.D. (in an etude)

"I have a strong urge to figure out what's going on... even if there's absolutely nothing going on." - O.D.

Me: [Analysis Professor], are you coming to our acting class tomorrow?
Analysis Professor: I am. So don't f*** up.
Me: But [Movement Professor] says that success doesn't exist without failure.
D-Train: She only says that to untalented people.

"No one has sex. No one gets off. I would suggest that that's the driving force behind every Feydeau play... No one has an orgasm." - Analysis Professor

"[Analysis Professor] said something the other day, and I said, 'You need to tremor more.'" - Voice Professor

"You can get these at a store called Elysian Fields. But don't ever go there with [Analysis Professor]. He can last about two and a half minutes. As soon as you hit the section of crystals, it's all over for him." - Voice Professor

"We happened to be out running errands, and I wanted to go there. Why should it be all about him?" - Voice Professor, explaining why she took Analysis Professor to Elysian Fields

"I feel like such a girly man in my arms." - The Pro

"You've never seen a tv made into a fishbowl before? Well, get out more." - Iceman

*when we were asking questions of the person who had just completed an exercise*
Thrill: (to Acting Professor) My question is for you.
Acting Professor: How do I know?
Thrill: Because I'm telling you it's for you.

*after The Pro was handling an umbrella as though it were a prop gun for color guard*
Big Show: How did you know how to do that? I thought you were in the Marines for a minute there.
The Pro: Marines? Please! I was in Funny Girl.

Acting Professor: (explaining an imagination exercise) This is an electric chair.
Big Show: For home or personal use?

*after Iceman justified being by an electric chair by saying he had been on a tour and strayed from the group*
Acting Professor: Why were you by Queen Elizabeth's throne?
Iceman: I was on two tours today.
Wifey: You're a bad tourist.
Iceman: I know. There's a 'do not touch' sign, and... *he leans out to touch the chair*

"Sorry. I was about to go right into criticism." - O.D. (all our responses to other people's exercises are supposed to being with the positive, and then move into criticism)


Friday, September 12

I have 6-10.5 hours worth of class every day. So clearly, my blogs are condensed... abridged... incomplete... We do far more in any given class than I outline here. This is just a taste of everything to satiate the curious few who are interested in reading it. I just felt the need to say that so that you didn't think I spent three hours everyday eating imaginary apples or something.

Our professor gave us the option of dancing instead of jumping rope today, and I TOOK IT. Why? Because frankly, if that music were playing and I didn't have a jump rope in my hand, I'd probably be dancing anyway. In fact, most days I'll trip on my rope at least once because I'm trying to dance while jumping rope, and I'm not as coordinated as I think I am.

She pulled out a mini-skeleton named "Henry Henrietta" and pointed out various bones in the body. It was actually really helpful, as opposed to her just explaining things. I dig skeletons.

I keep getting in trouble (sort of) in class for apologizing. I can't help it. It's my default to say "I'm sorry" whenever someone corrects me. Actually, one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2008 was to apologize less. Clearly, I'm not doing well at it. I guess I'll just have to try harder. Or be less sorry.

I've done something very, very uncomfortable to my legs. It just keeps getting worse. It's around my hip sockets and my thighs. It was so bad today that I was having difficulty just sitting in a chair because of the pain. I think I have a low pain threshold, but I always try to sort of suck it up and deal... But lately, I just can't. It's too much, and it won't stop. Hopefully it'll subside over the weekend. And if not, I guess I'll have to talk to my Movement professor about alternatives to the work we're doing or something.

We have a paper due Tuesday on what causes tension, both in actors and in non-actors.

Took the test on the parts of the body that help to create sound, and I actually think I did well on it. *crosses fingers* I think voice might be my favorite class at the moment, just because I find the subject matter so fascinating. We have a quiz or something on Tuesday over our IPA consonant chart.

My tremors are still intense. I couldn't do my favorite one today because of the hip pain, but I got substantial tremors in other positions. My classmates have commented on my tremors being large... I think that some of them think I'm exaggerating them, or "faking it". I'm not. They freak me out, and sometimes I try to stop them and can't. My voice professor says that it's all perfectly normal, and that some people just have bigger or more erratic tremors than others. I'm starting to feel a little self-conscious about the whole thing. In fact, I find that I have a hard time getting a tremor if I don't put my hands over my eyes and mentally go into my own little world.

My Analysis professor is the head of the program, so he observed my Acting class today. I think it made everyone a little uneasy and less free than they would normally be. Especially since it seemed like he was taking notes (we're wondering if he was already making decisions about our understudy casting).

It was a completely unusual class. Instead of group exercises, there were about four people who just had long strings of individual exercises while the rest of us watched. I wish we'd done more... Oh well.

So that I don't forget, here are the physical memory exercises that we've been working on thus far:

All The Way - Waking up, Sewing a button on a sweater (two separate exercises)
Big Show - Making a Pizza
D-Train - Taking a shower
Disco (Me) - Putting in contact lenses
Iceman - Cleaning up a broken bottle, Tuning & playing a guitar (two separate exercises)
Killer - Throwing playing cards as though they were weapons (which he does in real life, and it's completely awesome)
O.D. - Being in a hot tub & escaping from a bee (one exercise)
The Pro - Preparing for a run (putting on socks, shoes, and an iPod)
Thrill - Lifting weights
Two Shots Up - Taking out mouthguard & gargling
Wifey - Blowdrying & styling her hair

We got our tech assignments, sort of. I'm on run crew, which I'm happy about. I just really didn't want to get lights or sound and be stuck in the booth. I hate that. So the downside is that I won't get to watch the shows, but the upside is that I'll probably get to know the 2nd-Years a little better as a result. It sounds like I'll also probably get to ASM a show and do box office for a show (there are 4 shows total for the 2nd-year season).

All the people on run crew went on a little field trip to the theatre's "prop storage" building. Trust me, you've never seen anything like it before in your life. My grad school program moved into our current building in 1991. The building it was in before that has now been converted into prop and furniture storage. All the dance studios, the classrooms, and even the theatre itself. It is a massive two-story prop heaven. Absolutely unbelievable. Anything and everything you could possibly want is in that place. I can't tell you how many telephones there were. Or how many suitcases. Heck, I'm pretty sure I saw at least 10 fake bodies. If you need anything from a life-size skeleton to a Wheaties box from the 1960s, they've got it. It was unreal.

Students are allowed to create "late-night" productions if they want at certain times during the year. Tonight was the opening night of American Buffalo by David Mamet, performed by three of the 3rd-years. I've never actually seen or read any Mamet before (for shame, I know), but it was pretty much exactly the flavor that I anticipated. I love seeing student-produced theatre, especially when it's solid.

AHHHH!!! Understudy auditions are tomorrow for the 1st-years, and I feel hideously unprepared. Which is probably ridiculous, as I have my pieces down... but still. I'm horribly worried that I'm going to go over the time limit, as my monologues aren't as shiny and polished as they once were. I think I'm going to just spend all of tomorrow morning drilling them, which is probably a terrible idea and will make me sick with nerves, but it seems like the right thing to do. Gah! I have a stress stomachache just thinking about it.

My audition is around 1:45pm. Please say a prayer for me!



Thursday, September 11

I didn't jump rope. My body is not happy at the moment, probably because I've spent the last, oh, 9 years of my life being a sedimentary rock. All the muscles near my hip sockets hurt. I thought my ankles were hurting until my movement professor grabbed my leg and pointed out that the problem is actually in my calves. I think I'm slowly falling apart.

Luckily, there were a couple of things that we did that didn't bother my body at all. Turns out, my upper body is pretty stretched out, so certain things actually hurt me LESS than other people. Which is nice. Also, my professor says that my back is a lot less deeply curved when I'm sitting, so she thinks my back issues are just alignment problems, and that they can be corrected. So that's awesome.

So we're working on the beginnings of our consonant work still, and I'm digging it. And my voice professor made a comment that I'm great at locating menial consonant examples. I was pretty stoked by that.

I'm still having violent tremoring. I'm also having trouble with residual tremors. Like, I'll be doing something in Movement, and suddenly my leg will start shaking uncontrollably. My Voice professor says that as my body becomes more familiar with tremoring, the residuals will stop happening. But right now, it's freaky and unsettling.

Test Friday, so I have to study all the body parts that work to produce sound. Wish me luck!

So entertaining, I can't even tell you. The other half of the class brought in their physical memory exercises (everything from tying shoes to making a pizza). Then we did some more dialogue etudes, with hilarious results. I'd try to recreate them in writing, but I don't think it'd come across properly. But I was laughing for, like, 3 minutes straight, and then kept having giggles pop up randomly for a good 10 minutes after that. It was amazing.

We discussed the differences between structure in a comedy vs. tragedy. I'm finding this class wholly frustrating. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy it; I just feel like I can't win in it. Every time I say something that I think is a decent point, it gets shot down. And every time I ask for clarification of a point, my professor answers it with either a tangent, or more questions. We have a paper due Tuesday on what the action in Oedipus is, and I am terrified that I'm going to fail it. Pray for me.



Wednesday, September 10

We've moved further into our breathing and relaxation work. We've also started doing stretches that my body does NOT like, so I have to modify things. There's something wrong with my hip socket/groin region. Whenever I put my legs into a "butterfly" position, I have pain.

We continued work on consonants. We also learned a new tremor, which involves putting your hands in the air. "The Pro" found it in a major way, which was especially great because he's had difficulty with finding previous tremors. We have a test in this class on Friday over a lecture from last week, but it's been so long that I'm not sure I even remember what the lecture was about anymore. Eek! Must go over notes...

"Big Show" and I did an etude that was pretty successful. The dialogue was:
Big Show: I have to tell you something.
Me: Okay, but can you look in the other room first? I keep thinking there's someone behind that door.
Big Show: There's no one there.
Me: Okay. What did you want to tell me?

Lame lines, I know, but it turned into something nice. "All The Way" and "Iceman" had a really great exchange as well, that actually made me sort of emotional.

We've been working on physical memory, so we started sharing pieces we've been working on of doing actions without objects. It's sort of like miming, except you're trying to remember the sensations of dealing with objects instead of resorting to pantomime conventions. I presented a piece based on putting in my contact lenses. I think I did pretty well, but my professor has asked me (and a few other classmates) to find different pieces, as he thinks too many of us picked events that took place in a bathroom. He has suggested trying an activity that we don't do on a daily basis, like baking a cake or repairing a bicycle chain. I have no idea what I'm going to do... Oh well.


Tuesday, September 9

Every person had a huge bamboo stick, and we had to try to create a free-standing teepee-like structure out of them. It didn't work well. We did, however, manage to have it supported by about two people at one point, had a classmate crawl underneath it, and then were able to remove the sticks one by one without the whole thing tumbling down on her. I'm sure we'll get better the more we practice. We also began doing floor work concentrating on our breathing (which was rather similar to some of the work we've done in voice class).

We started learning IPA today. It's a sort of phonetic alphabet that teaches you how to pronounce words. We're starting with a Standard American dialect, and all the sounds that come with it. It was really quite neat. I already knew a good amount about voiced and unvoiced consonants from a project I did in undergrad, but had never gotten information about where in the mouth sounds are supposed to be formed. Apparently, most people say their "s" and "z" sounds in a non-neutral way, causing them to sound less clear than they could (or should, in the case of actors). Luckily, I say those correctly. But I have a problem that it seems no one else in my class has: I've apparently been forming words that start with the letter "l" incorrectly my entire life (my tongue touches my teeth much in the way it would if you were saying "th". It's supposed to be on the ridge on the roof of your mouth, like it is when you say a "d" sound -- strangely, my tongue is in the right place if L is in the middle of the word, like in "Angela").

We continued our studies of physical memory. Our homework assignment is to study one of our daily actions tonight (about 1-2 minutes in length) and do it in class tomorrow without the objects. So tonight, I practiced putting on eyeliner (from a pot, with a brush) with and without the objects. I think I've got it down, right down to the angles I lean into the mirror and the moments when I stick my tongue out of my mouth for no defensible reason.

In preparation for today's class, we had to read A Flea in Her Ear adapted by Greg Leamming, and Backwards & Forwards by David Ball. We had a conversation regarding cause and effect in plays. To be honest, I was confused for half of it. I kept asking questions, but I think that just confused me further. I think I think too much. We have a paper due in a week regarding what the action of Oedipus Rex is. We have to choose a verb as the action, and then write a paper defending the choice in every way possible. We weren't given parameters in the form of page or word count, so I'm a little nervous that mine will end up being either the shortest or the longest in the class (knowing me, the longest is more likely). Hopefully it'll go alright.


Quotations: Volume 2

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

"An artist cannot really be an artist without money." ~ Movement professor

"For me, its like, there is a God. When you feel all that release at once." ~ Voice professor

Acting professor: Were you thinking about the secret?
"Thrill": No. In my mind, I was like, "Big booty hoes, bump wit' it."

"Playing with your niece is one thing. Escaping from a rapist is another." ~ Acting Professor

"We will never discuss a theme in this class. Themes are nouns. Themes are unplayable. We're looking for the verbs. The action." ~ Textual Analysis professor

"I'll go with you to La Boheme, but you have to promise me she won't die." ~ Acting professor quoting his English teacher

"What feels natural to you now might just be a habit." ~ Voice professor

"Thrill": Do you wear the blazer all day? Like in the car and everything? Or do you put it on right before you walk in?"
Acting professor: First of all, I sleep in it.

"Killer": I think it's just that I don't eat apples that often.
"Big Show": But if we were discussing masturbation, it'd be easy for you.
(on the physical memory exercise we did in Acting class)

"The scariest thing to me is when an actor eats a generic apple even when the apple is real." ~ Acting professor

Acting professor: [O.D.] looks like he enjoys eating apples, right?
"O.D.": *taking a bite* I really like apples.

"Activity is great, but passivity can be beautiful." ~ Acting professor

Acting professor: What did you want to do in that exercise.
"The Pro": I wanted to leave.
Acting professor: Leave the room?
"The Pro": Yeah, leave. Leave the program.
Acting professor: Excellent.
"The Pro": Excellent?! I need an apple!

"I've got buckets of that stuff." ~ "The Pro", on what he did in the exercise that he thought was unsuccessful

"The only forbidden thing in this exercise is to forbid." ~ Acting professor

"Don't say 'I think' or 'I feel'. I don't care what you think or how you feel. I care about what you can prove in the text." ~ Textual Analysis professor


Friday, September 5

Today was phenomenal.

All 1st-year classes were canceled in favor of a field trip (across the street) to the the Ringling museums. Yes, Ringling like the circus.

The owners of the estate were John and Mabel Ringling, who had a great deal of money thanks to the circus, railroads, and oil. They loved the arts, and had a huge mansion and an extensive art collection, which they housed in a museum. There are also other exhibits on the grounds that are impressive, such as a scale model of a circus the most intricate and massive representation of anything that I have ever seen. It was mind-blowing.

Of course, it was class related.

Our assignment for Movement class:

"Look for a painting with a narrative or story that you want to step into."

For Acting class:

Try to look for examples of ease, beauty, form, and entirety. And also look for qualities of floating, flying, molding, and radiating.

Easily my favorite thing in the collection is The Blue Madonna by Carlo Dolci. My voice professor and "Big Show" also feel a strong connection with it. It's not a large painting, and it's sort of shoved into the corner of a small room, but it's so powerful that you can't help but look at it.

Not really the same online, but maybe you see what I mean.

I also enjoyed another Carlo Dolci work called Saint John the Evangelist Writing the Book of Revelation.

Sadly, I don't think they're good pieces for my Movement class assignment. I think I'm going to go with The Judgement of Paris by Lodovico David.

(bad photograph, I know... but it's the best I could find online)


We had a conversation with the professors sitting on the deck of the Ringling mansion (called the "Ca' d'Zan", or "house of John") at the end of the day to wrap up. I think the best thing I learned all day was this:

The difference between madness and passion is purpose.

Glean from that what you will.


P.S. If you'd like to check out more of the Ringling collection online, you can do it here.


Thursday, September 4

In voice class today, I FOUND my tremors in a major way! As I said before, tremoring involves putting your body into certain positions that cause it to tremble. I finally had a good tremor when we tried a pelvic tremor position last week. Today, I found a tremor in EVERY POSITION I ATTEMPTED. It was SO COOL. My body literally started leaping off the ground.

My voice professor said that whereas often people will just sort of shake, my body responds with "waves of tremor", and that I shouldn't be afraid of it. My head lifted off the ground spontaneously several times, as did my feet at times. It's hard to explain what it's like, but it's awesome. I feel like I'm learning new things about my body every time we do it.

In Textual Analysis today I argued with the professor a bit, but in a healthy way, I think. He stated that everything Oedipus does within the course of the play (just what the plot covers, not the whole myth) stems from his attempts to be a good leader. I disagreed, and pointed out several examples from the text that I thought illustrated him serving his own needs, curiosity, and self-preservation as opposed to the betterment of his kingdom. My professor didn't subscribe to my theory, and said we'd discuss it more next time. *sigh*

Our tech call was canceled tonight so that the first years could attend a play. Last year, an MFA directing student cut and directed a 45-minute, 6-actor version of Romeo & Juliet. It was very well received, and so they've decided to re-mount it and tour it around to area high schools for the next two weeks. It was cut really excellently, highlighting all the vital scenes and allowing the important plot points to shine through. Of course, it's always strange to see a cut version of a play when you are familiar with the full-length text ("but... they cut Juliet's monologue! I LOVE that monologue!"), but I enjoyed what they did with it. It was a neat production.

It was nice being able to see some of the 2nd-years act, as I hadn't seen any of them perform before tonight. They did a wonderful job. It made me hopeful for my future in this program. :)



Wednesday, September 3

There are so many things that I should be doing, but I just haven't had time to do. Like pick up a package from the post office that my brother sent me. Or take my car into the shop, as the "Check Engine" light has been on for a week and a half... But whenever I have free time, either it's at night (when those places are closed), or I'm so tired that I just want to go home.

I don't even mentally want to go through everything I did today...

I got to school at 8:15am so that I could practice handball exercises with "The Pro" before class. I was scheduled to be at school until 9:00pm (although I got out a little early).

Nothing earth-shattering happened in my first two classes...

At lunch, my class had our first ever "Group Therapy" session. Yes, we have group therapy. We have a meeting during lunch every two weeks with a lovely psychologist (I think that's her title) in order to be able to sort out tensions and issues within the class (either things that need to be worked out with each other, or just stress about the program). It's actually kind of a genius plan to have that built in to our first year.

We spent the first one in pairs, with each person telling a partner a story about an event that shaped the person they've become. Then we rejoined the group, and the listener shared the story with everyone. It was sort of great, as it gave us more insight into each other. I really enjoyed it. I'm anxious to see where these sessions go from here.

In Acting, we were supposed to imagine what it is to eat an apple. Every sense that you use, every motion you go through... And then we were supposed to eat an imaginary apple, envisioning as much as we could about it, and trying to eat it realistically.

After we had finished our imaginary apples, our professor brought out a bag filled with an assortment of apples, and asked us to each take one. We then ate the apples, noticing the differences between what we had done in the exercise, and what it was like to eat an actual corporeal fruit.

Once we had all finished our apples -- surprise! -- we had to mime imaginary apples once more.

I have to say, of the three apples I "ate" today, the first one was by far the most delicious.

Half of my class was called in to do tech tonight. Boring stuff, actually. Like sorting hardwear, peeling tape off of floors and re-laying it, and moving large pieces of plywood. But it did give me an opportunity to hang out with "Big Show", "D-Train", "Iceman", "Wifey", and "Two Shots Up", which was nice. While sorting hardware, the boys and I started telling jokes, and turned it into something more entertaining than it should have been.

When I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was my homework for tomorrow. I've done most of it (I still have a little reading left to do, and my only hypothesis on Oedipus' first decision is "he decides to make his business public", but I think that's wrong...).

I think I'm going to bring my handballs to school early tomorrow and hope someone wants to play catch with me. I'm getting better at catching, but I have horrible aim when throwing. Wish me luck.



Tuesday, September 2

It was another long day for me. Classes from 9:00am-12:00pm, student rep meeting over my lunch break, classes from 1:00pm-5:30pm, dinner break, and then tech call from 6:30pm-9:00pm.

We got our tests back from last week. It was pass/fail (thank goodness), and I passed. There were a lot of positive notes on my test (things like "GOOD!", "Yes!" and "very good observation from book"), but the word "Why?" appeared a lot (we had a short amount of time to take the test, so I guess I wasn't as complete in my answers as I should have been).

Jumping rope is getting easier. It's still exhausting, but I don't feel like I'm going to die now, so that's good. We did a bit of Suzuki work today, and also began coordination exercises. For awhile we hand to walk around the room balancing a stick vertically in our palms. Then we had to throw handballs towards a partner, looking into the partner's eyes, both throwing and catching one-handed.

Our homework is to continue the handball exercises for 20 minutes with a partner before tomorrow. I'm meeting "The Pro" at school before class to do it then, as we both really just wanted to go home after tech call tonight.

I got my voice test back as well. I didn't do tremendously on it, which I guess I had been expecting (not that I did abysmally... just not as well as I would've liked). I got the "destructuring" part just fine, but I really don't understand "restructuring" yet (probably because we haven't done it). Oh well. It's only the first test. And I really need to get this perfectionistic streak out of my system fast, because it won't be possible to keep it up in a couple of months anyhow.

We started doing body-rocking in the style of Roy Hart today. It's hard to explain (as I'm sure I'll say about the majority of things I do in my voice class), but basically you lie down and allow movement to originate in your feet in a way that rocks your entire body. It felt really great, actually. But then we started trying to draw circles with various body parts while rocking, which really just hurt.

We tried a new tremoring position today, but my back didn't like it, so I just went back to the pelvic tremor that worked so well for me last week. And the pelvic tremor? HUGE physical response to it. My entire body shook so violently that parts of it were lifted off the ground, and my breath became entirely spontaneous. It was simultaneously terrifying and THE COOLEST THING EVER.

Not all that thrilling. We began discussions on how to use funds. And we clarified information about our upcoming auditions. (First years don't actually get to be in shows, but we act as understudies for the huge Equity shows.)

We began doing "etudes" today. Etudes are like small scenes of acting improvisation. This is NOT the same as improv comedy. It's more like you get a small amount of given circumstances (such as a couple lines of dialogue, a physical position, or a relationship), and you build a scene off of that. It's not meant to be funny (although it occasionally is), but truthful.

Later in the day, "O.D." commented to me that he sensed me take on characteristics of "fear" and "being childlike" more than once in my exercises today. I noticed those qualities in one of my etudes, but not in the other... I don't know. Maybe that's just where my psyche was this afternoon. I just hope those things aren't crutches that I have to work through. Although if they are, I suppose "O.D." deserves my gratitude for pointing them out to me early, so that I can work on fighting them from the start.

We discussed how bewilderment and uncertainty are important for actors, and also how a lot of accidents turn out to be blessings. It was a good class.

We had a whole discussion on how people confuse the themes of a play with the action of a play. My professor declared that we're not looking for nouns or statements when describing the action of a play, but rather verbs. So, for example, Hamlet is not "man vs. himself" or "passion and humanity", but would be something more like "avenging". (Okay, that was a horrible example, because I don't think avenging is a good verb... but hopefully you get the idea).

We learned about Praxis/Poesis/Theoria... Although don't ask me to explain them, because I'm still fuzzy on them. We discussed probability and necessity, but I'm still not 100% on what those refer to, either. And then we went into the importance of cause-and-effect, which I think I actually understood.

For homework, we have to do research into some figures from the family of Oedipus. And we also have to determine what the very first choice Oedipus makes (in the play, NOT the myth) is.

My first assignment was to paint the floor in front of the first row of the small theatre black with "O.D.", and I think we did a pretty great job (although "Iceman" left a footprint in our work later, but meh). Then it was unfolding and refolding legs (curtains), loading flats into a van, and unloading the flats into the scene shop.

The scene shop is a union shop, and it is the BIGGEST FREAKING SHOP I HAVE EVER SEEN. Seriously. I thought I'd seen big shops before, but they were NOTHING like this. It was incredible. It looked like an airplane hangar. So cool.

Anyway. I should probably reread chapters 1&2 of "One Voice" before tomorrow's lecture.